The Prince William Board of County Supervisors has authorized the transfer of $100,000 from its Special COVID-19 Response Fund to support the construction costs of Caerus Vivarium, an animal biomedical research laboratory in the Innovation Park .
The lab will provide essential infrastructure for the thriving life sciences industry in Prince William County, according to a news release.
The 1,500 square foot vivarium will be regulated by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee as a Biosafety Level 2 laboratory limited to mice and rats. The facility will be owned and operated by Caerus Discovery LLC and housed in the 6,000 square foot Serpin Pharma laboratory at 9501 Discovery Blvd., Suite 120, Manassas.
Serpin Pharma is a graduate of the Prince William Science Accelerator, and it and Caerus Discovery were founded by Dr. Cohava Gelber. Both companies have close ties to George Mason University.
“Animals are essential for biomedical research,” Gelber said. “Initial biological research is done using computer models and cell tissue; yet these models can only show us so much. US federal laws…require that specific research in non-human animals take place to show the safety and effectiveness of new treatments before any clinical trials in humans.
Gelber said Caerus plans to use 25% of the new facility, and the remaining 75% of vivarium capacity will be available for contract use by other organizations.
“This facility is a natural progression for our life sciences industry, and this investment ensures that we can attract new biomedical interest to Innovation Park,” said Christina Winn, executive director of the Prince William Department of Economic Development. “We are thrilled to support scientists who are developing essential therapies to discover the causes, diagnoses and treatment of disease.”
Caerus Discovery began planning a vivarium in 2019, but the COVID-19 pandemic and rising construction costs halted those plans. The company began building the facility in October.
Caerus Discovery is a private, development-stage company focused on the discovery of novel molecular targets for cancer for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.